Potential Problems with Gel and How to “fix” them

Blog Post 9 - Gel Problems

Gel polish is a very popular medium to use when working on nails. Whether you’re using hard gel, builder gel, poly gel or acrylic, you can always incorporate gel polish in some way.

Gel polish colours can be mixed like paint to create any colours you wish. The possibilities are endless if you have primary colours, white and black.

However, you could face some challenges when working with gel polish, things like the gel polish peeling or lifting, the gel polish wrinkling, and more… Here we will discuss and advise you on some of the issues you may experience with gel.

Gel polish peeling at the free edge and / or at the sidewalls

One of the most common problems you can face when working with gel polish is peeling. Whether you’ve covered your entire nail in gel polish or simply added some nail art. There are things that can cause gel polish to start peeling, for example working with chemicals or excessive amounts of exposure to water.

How to prevent peeling at the edge and / or sidewalls

It is quite simple to prevent this from happening to your nails, you just need to do the following:

Prep the nails correctly before applying any product

Gel will not adhere to a shiny surface. Therefore, if you don’t properly remove the shine from the natural nails as well as the tips, the gel will start peeling very soon after application.

Hot Tip – Be very careful not to over file or buff the nails

Make sure to dehydrate your nails with rubbing alcohol or acetone or a bonder before you apply the base coat. Dehydrating the nails after nail buffing and preparing the nails helps to maximize the adhesion of the product to the nails. It also ensures that you remove any dust and oils.

Hot Tip – If you skip this step and any oils remain on the nails the gel will not last.

Applying A base

Never apply gel polish without a base coat. Whether you’re painting the gel polish onto your natural nails or over any other product, it is very important to use a good quality (preferably the same brand as the gel polish) base coat before you apply the gel polish.

The reason being that gel polish needs the base coat to properly adhere to the nails. A base coat creates a foundation for the colour layers.

FYI – Base coats and colour layers will remain tacky/sticky after curing which helps the next layer adhere.

It is very important to make sure that the basecoat covers the entire area where you intend to paint the gel polish. When applying the base coat remember to make sure that you have painted a thin even layer, and that you have not missed any of the nail, we also recommend that you cap the free edge of the nails. The gel polish could lift if it’s applied to a part of nail that has not been painted with the base coat.

Apply Colour layers / nail art

When applying your colour layers, make sure that you are painting in thin coats. It’s better to build up colour in thin layers than to paint the gel thickly. If your gel is applied too thickly, it will probably ripple, bubble, not cure properly, peel off and or lift. If you get product on your cuticles and don’t have neat application your Gel will peel and lift. We recommend two coats of colour, curing in between.

Seal with Top Coat.

Seal the gel polish after application, whether your base is a soft builder, normal basecoat, hard builder, rubber base or acrylic, it doesn’t matter. None of those base applications matter if you don’t apply a topcoat to seal and protect the gel polish.

“We simply adore the MS Top Coat; it does not leave any residue and it stays so glossy”

Cap free edges of the nails

To Cap the free edges of the nails, means to paint the end of the nail with the same product as the rest of the nail. It is important to not only cap the nails with the basecoat but also with the gel polish. But this is where it gets tricky, it’s not a good idea to rush this step otherwise your Gel could end up lifting and not lasting.

Lifting product

Lifting product is not only unappealing to look at and an irritating issue to deal with, but it can also lead to serious problems like the growth of bacteria on the natural nails. When gel nails start to lift whether it’s at the sidewalls, cuticle area or free edge, there are a couple of things that you should go through to determine what might be the cause. The main reasons usually include incorrect preparation of the natural nails, skipping a step and not using a core product, flooding of the cuticles or sidewalls, or more rarely underlining health conditions.

What can be causing the gel to lift?

Incorrect preparation of the natural nails: If the nails were not prepped correctly before application this will cause lifting of the product within the first week. Preparing the nails includes pushing back the cuticles, cleaning the nail plate of any dried skin that was left over after pushing back the cuticles, buffing and removing the shine from the nails completely, properly removing dust from the natural nails, dehydrating or applying a bonding agent to the nails and letting it dry completely before applying a base coat. If any dust or debris remain on the nail or if you miss a bit of nail when buffing, leaving it shiny the product will start to lift.

Forgetting an important step

If you forget

  • to clean the nail and cuticle area
  • to apply a bonding agent or to dehydrate the nail
  • to wipe off any dust
  • to apply a base coat before you apply the gel and/ or the builder gel,

your nail product will most likely start to lift.

“It’s very important to follow the proper steps in applying gel. The more you do it the better you will be at it.”

Flooding the cuticle or sidewalls of the nails

Once the products touch the skin, the oil from the skin will be transferred to the product and cause it to lift. When the product starts lifting it will keep lifting further into the nail if not repaired fast enough. The reason for this type of lifting is that product will not stick to an oily surface. This is also why it’s so important to file your nails and dehydrate them to ensure the removal of any natural oils present on the nails.

Hot Tip – Use a small brush dipped in acetone to clean up around your cuticles and nail bed before curing to ensure a neat, long lasting finish.

The gel polish isn’t curing properly

If your gel polish looks like it has wrinkle, ripples or bubbles, is soft and moves under the top coat it is not cured properly. You need to make sure that you are applying thin layers, curing each one properly in between. We recommend at least 60 seconds.  If you don’t cure the gel long enough it won’t cure properly. This means that parts of it will still be wet and if you don’t realize it, you can start experiencing an allergic reaction as prolonged exposure to an uncured product is not healthy. Take your time and enjoy the process. It is also important to note that some older lamps may not be functioning correctly and may need a new bulb. We recommend a LED lamp. Make sure your hand is placed correctly in the lamp and the light is reaching your nails evenly. Remember that the base coat and colour layers remain tacky (a little sticky) Don’t touch, they stay tacky to help the next layer adhere. If you are not sure if your gel has cured, do another 30 seconds.

Hot Tip – Cure your thumbs separately so that you can ensure that the UV light hits the nail evenly

Underlying health conditions

Some health conditions can affect the adhesion of the product to the natural nails. Things like hormonal imbalances, menopause, pregnancy, psoriasis, certain types of medication and others can cause this problem. If you are struggling with Gel lifting and not adhering to your nail then we suggest you use a good quality rubber base gel. A rubber base gel is gentle on the natural nails while creating a strong bonding agent for the product applied over it. It creates a flexible environment so that the product won’t lift or crack as it grows out with the nail plate. A rubber base can be used with both gel- and acrylic applications. Please see our other Blog post all about rubber base.

Good Luck, Trust the process and enjoy your gel.

One thought on “Potential Problems with Gel and How to “fix” them

  1. Nadine Erasmus says:

    Valuable info, thank you! When I was pregnant with my first child, I had an issue with gel lifting, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why.

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